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24H Le Mans

GTE-Pro Teams Surprised by Porsche Pace

Porsche’s GTE-Pro rivals didn’t expect Bruni’s record-breaking 3m 47s lap…

Photo: Porsche

Several GTE-Pro teams have voiced their surprise at the chart-topping time set by one of the Porsche 911 RSRs in the first 24 Hours of Le Mans qualifying session.

The time clocked by Gianmaria Bruni in the Rothmans-themed No. 91 Porsche at the start of Wednesday’s evening run was 3.3 seconds faster than last year’s pole time set by a previous-generation Aston Martin Vantage.

It was also 1.6 seconds quicker than the next-best manufacturer effort of the 2018 field and fell into the same bracket as some GT1 class pole positions from the previous decade.

When asked by Sportscar365 if Ford expected the Porsche to lap so quickly, Ford WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell said, “No. That was a very impressive lap.”

“It looks like all of the [Porsches] can do it when you look in the detail, so that’s a very impressive qualifying pace,” he said.

“I don’t think we can get close to that. But then again, we’re at Le Mans. It’s not about what we can do in qualifying, it’s about what we can do in the race.

“Hopefully we can be competitive with them over a couple of stints.”

Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner held a similar opinion to Howard-Chappell, admitting the size of the gap between Porsche and the rest of the field was not expected.

The fastest Corvette C7.R qualifying time was a 3:50.789 – four seconds quicker than what the team posted at the Test Day but still three seconds off the class best.

Corvette was handed a 10kg weight increase in a Balance of Performance update issued Tuesday, although program manager Doug Fehan downplayed any negative effect when approached by Sportscar365.

“[It was] a little bit surprising in some ways,” said Milner.

“I think their best lap was a 3:52 or something in the Test Day, so five seconds faster is a pretty big chunk.

“We were fairly happy with the result of all the work that we have done, but I can’t help but be, not so much disappointed, but the gap is bigger than we hoped for or expected.”

BMW Team MTEK driver Alexander Sims believes the rest of the GTE-Pro pack is reasonably bunched and that a Balance of Performance adjustment on the Porsche would likely even out the class field.

Both BMW M8 GTEs ran Q1 in full qualifying trim with low fuel and new tires, while the fastest lap across the pair was Antonio Felix da Costa’s 3:50.579.

“We’re in an OK position,” said Sims.

“The Bruni Porsche went substantially faster. That was quite an eye-opener if that’s what their pace can be – further away than we thought. We’re in the mix with the Fords, Corvettes and Ferraris.

“If the Porsche is brought back to the rest of the field then we can at least be in the race.”

Bruni “Surprised” Himself With Lap

Porsche driver Bruni, meanwhile, has said that he was not expecting to lap the 8.5-mile Le Mans circuit at such a pace.

The Italian’s time, which came on his only flying lap, resulted in a 1.5-second difference to Michael Christensen in the second-placed Porsche.

“The lap was really good, it was very clean,” Bruni told Sportscar365.

“The track was really fast. I was surprised that nobody went as fast as this lap, or even faster.

“I was expecting 3:48. Fred [Makowiecki] told me that I would do a 48 flat! The team prepared the car from free practice to qualifying and it was perfect.”

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.



  1. griffm3

    June 14, 2018 at 11:00 am

    And yet they won’t do anything to the Porsches in Pro/Am classes and they will go on to victory…congrats a I guess?

  2. BirdBrick

    June 14, 2018 at 11:08 am

    I don’t understand how the Porsche is so much quicker than it was last year. I mean it’s the same exact car from last year.

    • sports

      June 14, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      setup evolution, different BoP from last year, and I’m pretty sure the Michelin tires this year are a whole new compound.

    • John

      June 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      Weren’t you aware that stickers and a fancier paint job are worth 50 bhp? 😉

      A shame they will revert to the regular, bland livery after the race.

      The car pictured above pops like the other one doesn’t, and just plain looks faster.


    June 14, 2018 at 11:10 am

    I see two races here, first race between the Porches and the Fords to win the event, the second race between AMR and Corvette to stay out of last place.

    Somebody please remind me what BOP is for again?

    • Bruno Dourado

      June 14, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      True! I believe that BoP in GTE classes, like in P1, allow to think that the organizers want, so much, that Toyota and Porsches wins the 24H! It´s a shame…It would be nice see all the GTE inside the same second, to see who is the real best´s, besides reliability!

    • Andy Flinn

      June 14, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      Clearly, PIKANJOE, BoP is worthless unless the Corvette and Aston are fighting for first place.

      • all unseen are geniuses

        June 14, 2018 at 9:45 pm

        I see mommy let you out of your basement again to extol everyone with vast racing knowledge. Correcting everyone with supreme attitude, judging each statement with laser-like sharpness. Only you can teach us humble fools who might actually have an opinion you do not agree with. And of course, if we happen to opine that just maybe an Aston or Vette might get slighted in the tiniest bit, remind us of our foibles. Oh exalted one, show us the way, after all, we are just children to be taught. The racing world can not exist without your internet board genius!

        • Jon

          June 14, 2018 at 11:12 pm

          Someone’s off his pills again…

  4. Roddy Royle

    June 14, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Why not let the teams run their cars without having to add weight. Let people see what the cars can run without handycapping anyone. That way it would make manufacturers either build better cars or stay home. But to penalize a team for building a great car seems like their hard work is minimalized.

    • Bob

      June 14, 2018 at 6:54 pm

      Because of cost spiraling out of control and killing the category. Like GT1 and hybrid LMP1. And Formula 1…

      • Matt

        June 14, 2018 at 11:29 pm

        No it’s because the FIA/ACO are too thickheaded to implement cost caps. Max production/sale price of the cars should be set to $300-400k, there should be racing team personnel and expense limits, and all cars must be available for purchase. Team/manufacturer financial records must be available to the FIA. That way the manufacturers can develop whatever tf they want, as long as the running costs for teams is capped, teams will be able to purchase any manufacturer car and compete on relatively even ground.

    • Andy Flinn

      June 14, 2018 at 9:33 pm

      Roddy, eventually most of them would just stay home.

      That’s what killed the GT1 class.

      Corvette was left holding the bag with nobody to race against.

      So we don’t really need to keep repeating the SAME mistakes.

      • Internet Genius, evening Taco Bell host!

        June 14, 2018 at 9:50 pm

        Ah, once again, you correct and teach poor Roddy. Show him your vast encyclopedic racing knowledge that only three or four individuals in the world can match. Roddy, listen learn, you have been corrected, you must improve or kneel to the internet genius that is Andy Finn!

        • DEJ

          June 15, 2018 at 9:40 am

          Yes, Please notice. Andy is the only one that can have an opinion ,and his is the only person ? to have one.

  5. Mike

    June 14, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Well different type of race but Manthey pretty much was class of N24 last month making passing other cars pretty easy except for that Dumas incident which was the better Porsche but that is how it goes the record setting car didn’t win. So, Porsche been strong so far.

  6. J.C.

    June 15, 2018 at 9:40 am

    It’s 24hrs, anything can happen. Fastest car don’t always win.

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